The Neighbor’s Fencing

posted in: Fencing | 0

chickens fenced in

I was asked recently for advice on handling a “weekend farmer” neighbor who was losing chickens to a fox–mainly because of poor fencing–and whose response was to pick up his gun and go after the predator. Neighbors can be our biggest asset or greatest curse, often how we communicate with them has everything to do with it. I have found it very important to keep a good relationship with my neighbors even if it is me doing all the work in the relationship.

Does the neighbor close the chickens in at night? I have found this to be one of the biggest helps as far as predation of chickens. A chicken coop without any holes will keep the girls secure at night, it also goes a long way to allowing you to get a better sleep since you are not up worrying about it. Electronet fencing is certainly the best deterrent we have found at keeping the girls safe during the day but at night we always put all poultry in the coop. Putting the chickens in the coop is not a new thing, folks have been doing this for hundreds of years, if this is the scenario the neighbor is in I would bring it up. It is always easy to say “I was talking to this guy that was having the same problem you are and he said…”.

You can also mention the effectiveness of elecro-net fencing. The company Premier One sells a lot of the stuff because it works, they have a good web site that answers most any question one might have. We use it for our sheep as well as the chickens and are very happy with it.

Another point you can work into the conversation is that your field, and all the mice and voles it supports is a huge attractant to fox and coyotes. Mention to him that there will most likely always be some sort of carnivore in your neighborhood since the rodents are such a good food source, if he really wants to keep his chickens safe he will need to outsmart the fox.

Guardian Llamas

posted in: Guardian Llamas | 0

Sputter and HaremWould a guard llama work on your farm?

Many people – farmers especially – have been asking llama owners if llamas really do guard other animals. The answer is a resounding YES! If you are thinking about aquiring one, here is some helpful background information:

Lama Glama, domesticated about 6000 years ago from the wild guanaco in the Andean altiplano, is related to alpacas, vicunas and modern camels. Adults stand 5-6 feet tall, live 15 – 25 years and weigh 250 – 400 pounds. They browse and graze and have efficient, modified ruminant digestive systems. Llamas are highly intelligent and gentle, but not usually affectionate. They are sheared once a year; toenails are trimmed as necessary. Health maintenance and vet care is similar to that of sheep. Yearly upkeep cost averages $250. One can acquire a pair of llamas from a reputable breeder for about $700 each, and up. They should not be kept alone, without other lamas, UNLESS they are on guard duty.

How about guarding?

As llamas gained popularity in the United States, they were occasionally pastured with sheep. Owners noticed fewer sheep were being lost to coyotes. Llamas have a strong herd instinct and they like being with others of their own species. After being taken from their llama herd and placed with the sheep, a guardian llama adopts the sheep as its new herd. Being the largest of that new herd, he or she will become dominant and protective. This protective instinct really kicks in at lambing.

Llamas have been shown to be equally effective guards in enclosed fields or open range. They deliver non-lethal predator protection in settings with sheep, goats, alpacas, deer, cattle and poultry. They use body language (head lowered while running toward an interloper) and an alarm call to guard, and only ramp up to lethal means (feet and teeth) if the predator doesn’t quit.
Both gelded males and females, at least 2 years old, make effective guards, although not all llamas make good guard animals. They usually require no training after introduction to their herd or flock – just an adjustment period of a few days.

Llamas communicate effectively with their ‘charges’, as I have seen and understand it. Just by the llama’s alert body posture and some body movements, the sheep know there is danger; they gather behind their guard, while the llama orients himself facing the intruder. Sometimes it is an unfamiliar dog or puppy, just checking things out. Rather than a ‘flee first and ask questions later’ approach, llamas survey the situation and measure their reaction to the need: Puppy? Chase it out. Serious predator? Race, screaming, head down, directly at the intruder to be sure the message is clear. There is obvious non-verbal communication among all the species.

More information on llamas at


posted in: general | 0

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